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Alabama has consistently ranked as a top U.S. producer of several vegetable, fruit and berry crops. In 2009 Alabama was ranked no. 6 in sweet potatoes, no. 10 in fresh tomatoes, no. 12 in watermelons, no. 13 in blueberries and no. 18 in peaches. Together these crops were valued at almost $29 million.
The Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station addresses the unique needs of farmers throughout the state who produce these vegetable, fruit and berry crops as well as strawberries, pumpkins, squash, and sweet corn among many others.
At the Chilton Research and Extension Center, AAES researchers are evaluating new varieties of peaches, plums, nectarines, Satsumas, blackberries, figs, Japanese persimmons, muscadines, bunch grapes and an assortment of vegetables. Two new kiwifruit varieties developed at the CREC could play an important role in Alabama’s economy should that crop gain interest among growers.
Cherries and grapes are being studied at the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center. New cherry cultivars are being evaluated for suitability in north Alabama and similar climates and demonstration orchards have been created for prospective growers in the region. Grape cultivars are being studied for resistance to Pierce’s disease in northeast Alabama.
Satsuma (citrus) is a research crop at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center. Cold hardiness, early fruit hardiness and fruit quality are evaluated annually. The center also has a commercial citrus packing shed, cold storage, environmental growth chamber and greenhouse propagation facilities available for citrus research.
Virus indexed sweet potato seed for the Alabama sweet potato industry is being produced at the North Alabama Horticulture Research Center.
Small fruit and vegetable variety trials are also taking place at the North Alabama Horticulture Research Center, the Brewton Agricultural Research Unit and the E.V. Smith Research Center Horticulture Unit.
Disease and nematode control methods are the focus of research at the Plant Science Research Center greenhouses where plant viruses affecting vegetable production are being studied and at the Brewton Agricultural Research Unit where nematode control methods are being investigated.
Blueberry production in Alabama is a small, but growing industry. A rabbiteye blueberry variety evaluation has been in progress at the North Alabama Agricultural Research Center since 2006 and results are promising for new market varieties. Research projects recently established at both the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center and the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center seek to help produce a blueberry hybrid that would cut production costs and still provide healthy, delicious fruit.
Last Updated: January 10, 2012